Essays and Thoughts

  1. Best Registration Software for Classes – 9 Options Compared

    If you’re registering students for classes, you need software. But finding the best registration software for classes can be confusing. Every solution has different features and pricing models. Some are customized for specific learners and types of courses, while others seem determined to serve everyone. 

    How do you find the right fit for your program and students? We’ve compared nine of the best registration software solutions to make it easy for you to find the best online signup tool for classes. From adult ed to kids activities, we’ll walk you through available options and features to tell you where each of these solutions shines.

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  2. How Creativity Rules The World: 6 Lessons for Community Ed

    Creativity is the secret to success in any industry, says Maria Brito. She explores this idea in How Creativity Rules the World: The Art and Business of Turning Your Ideas Into Gold. As we read Brito’s insights, we couldn’t help but notice how many of them could apply to arts and community education programs. 

    You may think of creativity as an innate trait, or as something that happens in a flash of inspiration. Brito argues the opposite. She says, “creativity is a series of actions that bring about desired results. The operative word is action — creativity eludes those who sit down and wait for it to come.” 

    So take your first step toward creativity by reading this article. Inspired by Brito’s new book on creativity, we’ll show you six actions education programs can take to be more creative. Plus, we uncover three core skills you can pass on to your students.

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  3. Should Online Classes Be Continued After The Pandemic Ends?

    This pandemic will end. It may not be today or even next month, but the end is coming. Already, some adult, arts, and community education programs have moved back to in-person courses. This shift presents yet another decision point for programs: Should online classes be continued after the pandemic? 

    It might seem like online classes were part of your emergency response strategy and a return to business as usual would mean bringing students back into the classroom. Yet, getting back to normal may not be the right goal. Instead of thinking about online vs in person learning, you might consider how each one supports your learners.

    Here are five reasons you might want to keep online classes, plus how to decide whether online classes should be continued after the pandemic ends.

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  4. 6 Benefits of Enrichment Classes Every Director Should Know

    Education is transforming. Technology is evolving. Meanwhile, a pandemic is still disrupting everything from class schedules to the way we think about learning. In this environment, offering enrichment classes might not feel like a top priority, but it should be. Whether you’re running an adult ed program, an afterschool program, or the education department of a theater or museum, enrichment classes can help you fulfill your mission. 

    If your program is like most enrichment programs, the majority of your learners come from the local community. Giving back to that community isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s also good for business. You can use these six benefits of enrichment classes as the basis for marketing campaigns, to encourage donations, or to inspire your team during difficult times.

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  5. Why You Should Take That Enrichment Class with Someone Special

    The value of an enrichment class is more than the information gained. It’s more than the skills learned. Sometimes the true value of a class is the experience of taking it, especially if you enroll with someone you love. Learning something together can help people connect and strengthen relationships. It can deepen your mutual respect and improve your understanding. In short, though you signed up to learn how to paint, or ride a motorcycle, or do yoga, the real lesson is the one you learn about each other. 

    A few members of the CourseStorm team shared their real-life experience of taking a class with someone they love. Each one of them found opportunities to deepen their relationships and discover something new about their person. Lifelong learning takes on new meaning when you do it together.

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  6. What is the Future of In-Person Enrichment Classes?

    For in-person enrichment programs, the pandemic changed everything. Classrooms, theaters, and workshops fell silent when in-person classes were paused. Organizations scrambled to enable online learning and experimented with HyFlex learning models. Through it all, enrichment programs stayed true to their mission of enriching the lives of children and adults through educational opportunities. 

    Now, as we look forward to a post-pandemic world, leaders are applying lessons learned during the crisis to future-proof their programs. We turned to members of the CourseStorm community to gather their insight on what the future of in-person enrichment may look like.

    All agree that in-person enrichment classes are too valuable to lose, but remote learning can help meet student needs as well. Like improv performers, administrators of community education programs have learned to say, “Yes, and…” As in, “Yes, we will have in-person classes again, and asynchronous, hybrid, and HyFlex learning options, too.” 

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  7. Nine Types of Workforce Classes Trending Right Now

    We’re halfway through a transformational year — people from all walks of life have experienced radical changes in their lives, including their work lives. We’ve been following the trends and reading about the workforce’s changing needs as we start the curve into 2021.

    It makes sense that many people are looking to add skills that make them more valuable in the workforce. The Strada Center for Consumer Insights reports that 65% of surveyed workers expressed interest in education to provide them with more skills in their current career field, support a new career path, or pursue a personal interest. Based on our research (and in no particular order) here are nine in-demand workforce training topics that will be needed well into the future.

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  8. Our Commitment to Inclusion

    To Our CourseStorm Community,

    The events of the last several weeks have deeply saddened us at CourseStorm, and we stand in solidarity with the Black community in being outraged at systemic, ongoing abuses of power. We have taken time to gather, reflect, and discuss how our team can be part of creating a more just future for all. We understand that we need to start by recognizing our own privileges and how we have benefitted from racism, as well as our responsibility to undo it. 

    As a company with a mission to streamline access to education, we firmly believe that education is vital to a more socially just world. While refusing to be silent is an important first step, we also recognize that it is more important to take meaningful action. Our commitment will not only be in words but in actions as well. 

    With that in mind, we are committed to:

    • Amplifying the educational opportunities offered by our customers who, through their organizations and classes, are working for social justice.
    • Financially supporting organizations and individual classes that address systemic racism and work to end discrimination in all its forms.
    • Annual training for our staff to recognize and combat discrimination, and strengthening our company anti-discrimination policy.
    • Actively recruiting to build a diverse staff, advisors, and board.

    We recognize that these steps at CourseStorm are simply a beginning and that we have a long way to travel. We are committed to continuing this work, and I believe firmly that through our actions, we can and will make a difference.

    Brian

     


    Brian Rahill is CEO and Cofounder of CourseStorm.

  9. COVID-19: Planning in a Time of Panic

    “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” — Willa Cather

    We have been carefully watching the effects that COVID-19 has had across the country, particularly on educational programs.

    We understand the challenges that you’re working through: concerns about lost revenue, ongoing expenses, and what registration volume may look like for your organization over the near and medium-term.

    While we can’t tell you when things will return to “normal,” we’re confident that normalcy will return. To that end, we’d like to share some strategies to help provide continuity for your organization and learning community over the coming weeks and months.

    Instead of Cancelling

    While your first reaction might be to cancel classes altogether, there are other options at your disposal that you may be overlooking.

    #1: Don’t cancel, postpone

    No one really wants a class to cancel. Not you, not the instructor, nor the students who were excited to attend. While they may be absent for the next few weeks during this crisis, their interest in class is unlikely to abate. If you can, consider postponing your classes instead of canceling, so that when things calm down, everyone can still get the class they were looking forward to. Postponing also allows you to keep more cash with your organization rather than refunding it all back to the student.  

    #2: Consider remote instruction

    Follow the lead of many higher education institutions and consider temporarily shifting existing classes to remote instruction through video. Many classes and presentations can be live broadcast to attendees with affordable and accessible software solutions. From Vimeo or YouTube’s live streaming services to conferencing providers like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.

    For example, rather than cancel a show, one arts organization we follow is recording its spring youth drama performance and providing streaming video access to its ticket holders. A great, creative solution to the problem at hand!

    If you must cancel

    We understand. Here are some tips to help reduce the impact to your program.

    #1 Use promo codes

    Instead of refunds, offer customers credit for future classes to replace the class they’re unable to take.  As mentioned above, this helps your business keep cash on hand which is more important than ever when facing unprecedented circumstances.

    #2: Convert to donation

    Give your students the chance to donate the cost of their class to your program rather than take a refund.

    #3: Increase your online class offerings

    Consider adding classes to your program that are already designed for independent learning. For community education programs, ed2go offers a suite of excellent online classes you can resell at your program.

    #4: Call your insurance agent

    Your organization may have insurance coverage that can help reduce the effect of the disruption (ask about coverage from “event insurance” or “business disruption insurance”). It’s certainly worth checking with your provider.

    #5: Use this downtime to prepare for the upswing

    While your program may be quiet over the coming weeks, this is a perfect time to start planning your next move. After lots of time stuck indoors, students will be jumping at the chance to make up for lost time. With proper planning, you can be sure to be there right when they need you.

    Keep in mind that decisions made today don’t have to be final or absolute. It’s ok to make a decision that affects your immediate needs without trying to plan for the entire future. Use this opportunity to run an experiment and try something new. If it works, you may just end up with a new tool in your toolbelt!

    More resources to come

    While all this continues to unfold, we at CourseStorm will be researching best practices and providing resources to help affected programs make the best of a hard situation.

    We genuinely respect that this situation is causing a financial burden for many programs and we’re working on a plan to help lessen the financial burden for our most heavily affected clients. We will be sharing more information about our plans in the coming week.

    Until then, even if we’re technically isolated, we will all be pulling together, learning together, and adapting together.

    Be well. ❤️

  10. Lessons Learned from Matt James

    I had been running my own web development company for several years when I hired an enterprising young software engineer named Matt James. I didn’t realize at the time that this programmer would not only become the leader of our product development team but, ultimately, the designer of what would become CourseStorm, a business we would cofound. In 2015, Matt became CourseStorm’s first employee and has kept his eyes on the horizon since — always growing in ways to best impact and guide the company. As his leadership skills have expanded, so have his responsibilities, and today, I am excited to name Matt the Chief Operating Officer of CourseStorm!

    This occasion has provided me with a chance to reflect on our decade of work together across two different companies. Growing a startup is hard work, and having Matt as a co-founder has made all the difference in our success. I’d like to share some of the essential lessons I have learned from Matt during our time working together. They’re excellent lessons for both business and life. 

    Brian Rahill and Matt James, photo courtesy The Thing of the Moment / Jeff Kirlin

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